Eddie Copeland (MA ’11)
As early as he can remember, Eddie’s life was marked by turmoil. Even in elementary school, he was painfully aware of the brokenness in his parents’ marriage, and the church’s reaction to their pain. Rather than offering counsel, empathy, support, or understanding, Eddie watched the church harshly judge and then reject his family. “They heaped shame on us, rather than offering hope and healing,” says Eddie. The results were spiritual doubt, disillusionment, and even more pain in this young boy’s life.
Throughout his high school years, the problems at home continued, and, when it came time to consider college, Eddie desperately wanted to find an intersection of Christianity and psychology in order to help families like his find healing and restoration. He completed a BA at Moody Bible Institute and started to work on a Master of Divinity degree, but he was still curious about the practice of counseling as a Christian.
Eddie decided to pursue Trinity Florida’s Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling, and he graduated with a strong desire to use those skills to make a difference in the community. “The people of the church are the hope of the world,” says Eddie. So right out of school, he went to work with a coalition that combats homelessness.
Within that same year, two churches in South Florida saw their pastors resign because of moral failures. Eddie understood the pain and brokenness their congregations were going through, and he stepped in to lead Church United, bringing together fifteen of the most influential evangelical churches around South Florida. Pastors began to repent, families were restored, and healing was taking place. A “Soul Care” ministry for pastors was born as a building block for restoration.
“We need to deal with problems in the church,” says Eddie. “No one really wants to hear about brokenness, but literally half of my friends from undergraduate days are no longer in ministry. Many of them have even given up their faith because of the disconnect between what we preach and how we care for people in the church. What we win people with is what we win them to.”
“Trinity Florida’s MA in Mental Health Counseling program enables its graduates throughout South Florida to bring hope and healing to people who are wrestling with mental health issues.”
Eddie says the classes he took at Trinity Florida equipped him to step into difficult situations: “Safety is what the classrooms modeled,” he recalls. “We could have heated discussions about controversial issues, and the professors would skillfully navigate the diversity of our different Christian traditions. It challenged me and broadened my way of thinking.”
Today, Eddie Copeland is the executive director for Church United for the National Christian Foundation of South Florida. “I’m shocked to see how much I use my degree from Trinity every single week,” he says. Eddie also teaches BUS 214 “Introduction to Managing Nonprofit Organizations” at Trinity Florida.
For those thinking about completing a degree or pursuing graduate school, Eddie offers valuable advice:
“If you value something, you will pursue it, then instill it in other people. Look around at the people you admire, people who inspire you, and find out what kind of degree they earned and where they pursued it. Then go after it and follow in their footsteps!”
Caring professors and the integration of faith and learning are what make Trinity Florida’s MA in Mental Health Counseling program so strong. It’s enabling its graduates throughout South Florida to bring hope and healing to so many people who are wrestling with mental health issues. Many students like Eddie, who have suffered turmoil and brokenness in their own lives, are now serving others with compassion through professional counseling.
Find out if this vital degree program is for you, and join the committed network of counseling professionals who are providing a much-needed Christian framework within the practice of mental health counseling.